Although they’ve only been playing as a group for a short while, the jazzed-up funk of Jump Off isn’t the kind of music you’d expect from a group of college musicians. Not only do they play a highly original brand of stylized instrumental funk, they are also decidedly skilled musicians, many of them semi-professionals who teach students of their own.
Not that their music is too brainy or jazzy to be alienating to a casual music listener – instead it’s infectious, groove-heavy and makes for simply delicious listening. Jump Off describes their sound as “goodness, funkiness, joy, sex and good beer.” And seriously, who doesn’t like good beer?
Jump Off is a six-piece horn-driven band consisting of Derek Bondy on trombone, Jesse Cloninger on sax, Kevin Congleton on drums, Ben Darwish on Rhodes piano, Tim Leopold on trumpet and Zach Wallmark on bass.
Jazz fans in Portland will know the name Ben Darwish from his own trio, which plays around town regularly. And trombonist Derek Bondy comes from local music royalty of sorts: his uncle Gavin Bondy plays trumpet for Pink Martini and is the band leader of The Shanghai Woolies, a group that features Derek’s dad, Clark Bondy, on sax.
Bondy said that part of the attraction of being in Jump Off is that the band members not only play really well together naturally, but they are also friends outside of the band, so camaraderie comes easily and the rehearsals are fun.
Rather than having a main talent who supplies the band with all its ideas, Jump Off considers itself a democracy, wherein every one of the six band members brings his own song ideas to the table for the group to work on. This egalitarian approach to the creative process helps keep the band’s sound fresh and not too heavily influenced by one specific artist or genre. Think of it as a band for, of, and by the people. Derek said the band was founded on the notion of doing their own thing – creating something musically unique. And letting all the members of the band contribute is a creative approach that has so far yielded great results.
When it comes to musical influences, Bondy cited The Bad Plus, Medeski Martin and Wood, Herbie Hancock, OutKast, The Meters, and Beck, among others. That should give the new listener an idea of what to expect from Jump Off’s upcoming show at The Blue Monk this Saturday, Sept. 30: some funky sounds, some hip-hop influence, some jazz influence, but definitely not jazz.
Jump Off doesn’t yet have a CD or an official website, but their MySpace page, www.myspace.com/jumpoffband, features some video clips of the band and stays updated with upcoming show dates.
As a band of mostly students, Jump Off is hungry for the opportunity to play (and hungry for food in general) so they are available for booking at parties and private events. For more information, you can message the band on MySpace.